Category Archives: Iran

#Harper’s War(s): #Harpernomics, #C51 and the #NATO Cruz Missile! #cdnpoli #pnpcbc #ctvpp

Much can be gleaned about the rise and tightening grip of the far-right globally if one dares to look outside the box that is framed by the media conglomerates. The repetition that the “media” is somehow a soapbox for the “left” has run it’s coarse as is evident with the rise of the far-right phenomenon that finds the media on board, full steam ahead. At best the media may be a few steps away from the ultra-far right but it is closer to the far-right than ever and is certainly going along to get along. One question may be, are they willingly going along or have they been secretely legislated?.

This mashup summary will be a somewhat long rant that will pose some seriously neglected questions, expose some uncomfortable gaps and potential connections and exploit some rather historical similarities. This summary may be updated but more than likely will branch off into further research. If anything it should prompt many to delve deeper into any of the issues that are connected.

We intend to additionally explore if we are actually in an “official” state of war that has been secretly declared. Is it possible for a War Measures Act to be secretly or subversively implemented? If so, how do we actually know if this is the case and who the “enemy” is? Or is this where “Harper’s Enemies Lists” somehow fits in? This may explain the virtually one-sided presentations across the various conflict zones and hot spots that emanate from the same handful of global conglomerates. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for a much bigger glacier.

How can an ideological war between the ultra-far-right and the far-right politically or a cultural/tribal/civil war pitting nationalists vs ultra-nationalists militarily, be fought simultaneously at home and abroad?

How far to the “right” must one travel and give up personally to acquire perceived safety and security provided by the oppressive Harper Regime over real life freedom and liberty in the pursuit of prosperity provided by democracy and credible market based capitalism?

How much further to the “right” will the Liberal Party creep and how far will the NDP choose to follow behind?

We only ponder this because some circles are harder to square than others. The further to the right you travel, you’ll notice that moar war and less freedom are on the agenda while the less war factions simply go along to get along for the most part.

We are also beginning to contemplate how the destabilization in Ukraine and Iraq are not being used as some sort of “incentive” to members within the E.U. with regards to expediting and completing the pending cross-Atlantic Free Trade Agreements. Cutting of access to Eurasian markets under the cover of sanctions against Russia seems like a good strategy as is the display of how quickly organized violence against any State can be launched. Add that with the secret TPP and it gets much clearer but we might have to ask Nigel Wright since he has his fingerprints all over the place. The Duffy scandal forces one to consider how much access and influence really had and how he used it to further his own financial portfolio.

How do all of these tie in with the SPP and Bill C-51?

Who are Harper’s advisors anyway and who advises them?

Are these the same type of ideological “foreign policy” advisors that the G.W. Bush Iraq team “employed” to cherry pick reams of intel for a needle in a haystack, pie in the sky, unsubstantiated documents/clauses to fabricate the conditions that justify immediate and massive military intervention?

“We the People” are certainly being groomed for a war of unimaginable scale and consequences, but it will be very, very good for some global investors. The “Police State” conditions are being arranged via the Trojan Horse Bill C-51 to “legally” stifle any/all anti-war and/or anti-austerity protests. There will be no Ottawa Maidan, period. If we were to boil it down to it’s murky base, we would notice that all of the current conflict zones that require liberation are concentrated along various pipelines, energy, transportation, shipping and rail corridors. When the long dust settles, new borders will be redrawn to consolidate and secure trade routes. The real problem is that no State can control what it’s oligarchs invest in or how they invest it, move it, offshore it or divest it. Another thing that is certain is that professional mercenary alliances and the black market only serve those that provide the necessities of war and are loyal only to those that can provide them financing and armaments.

The key fact is that through the various narratives being weaved about Bill C-51, it is a massive Trojan Horse with the anti-war movements in it’s sights. All of the others that will be caught up in this dragnet operation that fall on the “left” side of the political spectrum will be either considered a “bonus” or as acceptable collateral damage and cannon fodder. Keep in mind that fear, intimidation and propaganda plague all cultures/regions and are utilized by multiple overlapping players with their own ultimate agendas. while violent persecution attempts to solve dissent abroad, the “West” achieves this control of dissent easily by way of economic persecution. In either case, the “life” of the individual involved is lost, one by loss of blood, the other by loss of assets/income/credibility/career.

One of the key provisions of Bill C-51 that needs to be examined is the “language” about the censoring of the interwebz of “terrorist” propaganda. If we harken back to WWI and ponder the implications of how propaganda and censorship are used to sell wars and interventions, we need to ask ourselves one fundamentally important question, who decides this opaque definition. Then we need to ask ourselves, where, why and how opaque definition based declarations are decided. The logical follow up question would be who has the most to benefit from the proceeds of the declaration?

If we look at the deteriorating situation in Ukraine from beyond the lens of the AP/Reuters reports, we see a nation that is spiraling into chaos and various oligarchs have their own loyal “volunteer” battalions. Many estimates put these far-right extremist “anti-Russia” mercenary groups at approx 17, each with it’s own vision, mandate and source of funding. The same might be presumably said for the “pro-Russian” side as well. These would be players that are being employed to either secure business interests or expand land claims.

Some other interesting points to ponder may be related to the bursting of the Commodities Super Cycle during a highly concentrated, uncertain, oversupplied and illiquid global market based upon unsustainable debt.

Have we reached peak energy?

How low can the price of oil/energy go before the serviceable-debt bubble pops?

Are these wars being waged to assure that the flow of energy profitability increases in an otherwise oversupplied market?

Since no Central bank or amount of austerity can ever balance the costs of misguided military interventions and the effects of previous omnibus budgets yet to be felt, let’s review a small segment of what has transpired since debt based Harpernomics has replaced surplus based economics.

Even with the massive downloading of costs onto the Provinces without balancing the tax system and revenue sharing, the Federal Debt has exceeded $600 Billion, with debt servicing alone growing daily at a steady clip. Since those costs are immediately download to the Municipalities/etc. the costs to service existing debts becomes an issue that rapidly prevents proper infrastructure maintenance and upgrade investments.

Since Harpernomics has replaced economics with selective inflation based shell-game budgetary tricks to acquire a magical surplus of everything just before an election, the fact remains that job creation continues to lag far behind the amount necessary to accommodate new entries into the work force, wages are stagnant at best and according to the Harpernomicists themselves, the average hours worked per week is in a steady decline and is projected to continue the trend downward.

Will the drop in oil and commodities afford the Harper Regime the “right” to encourage wage reductions throughout the energy sector like they did to the non-outsourced manufacturing sector?

At what point does using a sliding scale for the hours worked considered “full time” for job numbers presented by the Harpernomicists become a purely mythical and unreliable set of digits to an actual number?

Other than the Harper Loyalists, Harpernomicists and apologists, who actually thinks that misguided war waging is free?

Even though the Harper Regime cannot provide a final figure for the Afghanistan intervention, the costs estimates thus far range between $20-30 billion CDN + uncountable collateral damages. The results of the intervention, other than the huge short term gains by military contractors, are far from conclusive. No matter how hard anyone tries or how many times it is invaded and/or occupied it, Afghanistan is going to be whatever it wants to be based upon their own best interests within boundaries on a map that they had no voice in drawing. In the overall case of the invasion, on paper it looked all good and noble and just, but not far under the surface the truth existed. The entire process was manipulated and intelligence was distorted so that one of the more sinister and nefarious minority groups were given authority over the majority. Surely a group will accept “aid” to gain their own syndicate a competitive advantage but there will always be shifting of the balance of power between tribal alliances as power is gained. This is not the first rodeo of this kind for Afghans and they know that any “foreign” presence will be short  sights and short lived in the big picture and have pretty much decided where the boundaries lie between themselves.  The greatly under-reported violence that we see now in Afghanistan is the end result of external military intervention and occupation that allowed certain tribes to immediately fill the vacuum and consolidate “legal” authority by force. Not only that but, the blowback from the flourishing Poppy boom and trade is already being felt globally and the negative effects will be long lasting across the board.

In much the same way the Afghanistan costs were budgeted, contrary to the initial “estimates” provided by the Harper Regime, the Libya intervention Harpernomiced out several times higher at approx. 1/2 billion + uncountable collateral damages that has resulted in a completely insecure failed state embroiled in a civil/tribal war intermixed with various mercenary groups seeking weapons and training. The fact that there were no attempts by Canada or other NATO Allies to secure cooperation with the remnants of the Libyan Military to secure the armories and military facilities is highly suspicious at best. Has anyone pondered the thought that maybe John Baird was communicating about Libya/Syria with Hillary Clinton via her unsecured private email server? What happens if those communications get leaked?

Who is ultimately paying for this high, long-term debt-servicing-cost agenda?

What is the motivation, and what are the true long term costs in blood, currency value and purchasing power, behind the fascinating objective of creating an “invisible” self-perpetuating unsustainable debt burden?

How can Harper promise that 2 wars, in Ukraine and Syria/Iraq, can be fought and funded on the backside of lower oil revenues, stagnant at best wages, massive looming job losses, deflationary housing market pressures and lower tax revenues.

As the debates surrounding war and electioneering take center stage, Bill C-51 and the “delayed” budget simmer away. One affects our assets and the other affects our liberties bad both are being looted by the pro-war insiders. This brings us to a rather oddly timing of the NATO meeting, the U.S. Presidential campaign bid that was declared by Canada’s own export, far-right winger Ted Cruz and the devious election tactics used by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to court, fear-monger and rally the farther-right elements to assure his grip on power. These “faces” present the sell-siders of apocalyptic evangelical wars in their respective domains and propose, foster and initiate discontent within and interventions abroad to protect opaque “national” interests. Ultimately, since Cruz has zero chance just based upon the amount of cash he has, we conclude that he is simply strategic investment in the global game of consensual election engineering and a political pawn that posed no threat to the U.S. status quo. His entry is a pre-election campaign aimed at intended to influence and engage Canadians to bolster far-right support for the Harper Party in the short term from beyond the realm and jurisdiction of Election Canada. Since Cruz is staunchly anti-Obama, pay attention to which slogans and taking points get highlighted, accentuated and repeated by whom, on this side of the border. Then pay closer attention to how the media in the U.S. respond to hostile rhetoric from the anti-Obama/pro-Bibi Harper Loyalists. Then pay attention to how the Liberals respond.

This combination sets the stage for Harper’s  sell-side that supports NATO’s expansion into sovereign Syrian territory against “darker” ultra-far-right mercenaries for hire with the bonus prize of additional Ukraine territory to train “lighter” ultra-far-right mercenaries for hire that will eventually become a battle hardened menace to the E.U. and the West. Fear not, Harper’s Bill C-51 will protect us.

Is widespread war and discontent the Harper Regime’s reverse Soylent Green Solution for youth unemployment and lack of opportunity?

Are these strategic regions being justifiably destabilized in order to profitably reduce the stockpiles of Cold War era armaments and battle-harden the next generation of unaccountable and subcontract-able mercenary units?

What about the Yemen powder keg that is exploding and what about the current and ongoing collateral damages, dislocations and refugee crisis?

In one instance, international law isn’t relevant as Harper Loyalists proclaim that they are defending the autonomy of “Kurdistan” against a threatening “darker” ultra-far-right terrorist threat emanating from Syria that has no legal standing. One that, oddly enough, is fully armed with American equipment, hardware and armaments and has secured funding from several regional players with varied agendas. We need to remember that “Kurdistan” is a province within Iraq in what amounts to a breakaway region that has been planning and forming an independent State since at least 1991. It is rather obvious that the Sykes-Picot concept over and the position and/or agenda of the Kurds and that of the Iraq Government in Baghdad are not necessarily in sync. Their ultimate vision is the combination of the greater Kurdish regions that span across Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq or maybe the recreation of Assyria. This which would provide “space” for the Kurds to consolidate authority as well as provide regional protection for the remaining Christians and other targeted minorities. The only way for that to unfold would be if the primary players decided to seriously negotiate satisfactory representative regional agreements that settles the power/land dispute between the Sunni and Shiite populations in Iraq and Syria, below Kurdistan. These primary players would have to coordinate with Baghdad and Damascus and consider splitting off Sunni chunks into an independent state that lies between Syria and Iraq. With the hidden civil war in Iraq bubbling over and the chaos in Syria putting more pressure on the border, this seems like the most plausible end-goal as this strategically concentrated and central swath would be able to control the flow of resources and mercenaries between all of the surrounding nations and let the Sunni/Shiite and Islamaphobia battles ensue.

In another instance, in a quasi-mixed role reversal as far as international law is concerned, the autonomy of “Novorossiya” within the Ukraine is being denied to it’s inhabitants while they are being attacked by far-right mercenary groups funded international and regional players with diverging, converging and overlapping interests. Another odd twist with regards to interpretations and reinterpretations of international laws is in the way Crimean autonomy post 1991 has been interpreted

In a coinciding instance in Syria itself, much like the propaganda campaign to bomb freedom into Libya, an actual far-right terrorist threat was detected from a very small and problematic region and was identified as emanating from the same roots as the armed insurrection in Libya. In these cases, the media portrays these known terrorists as peaceful liberators and gives them a free pass to do their dirty deeds without question.

Then we have the Yemen civil war being reignited in what is a very strange play with regards to the loose application regarding international law, violating sovereignty and crossing borders. In this case, unlike Ukraine, the President that fled to safety abroad is given authority over the security situation. In some ways it almost seems as if there are some interesting energy power alliances behind the scenes that may be trying to isolate the House of Saud by drawing them into a trap in Syria or is the House of Saud is pursuing more calculated and nefarious deeds by isolating it’s own allies into convoluted quagmires with it’s adversaries and enemies.

Maybe Gaddafi was right, over the years he repeatedly told all of the Arab leaders that eventually they will all be deposed and replaced eventually, just like Saddam. It is probable that some of those leaders realized this threat existed, or quickly became aware with the prophetic demise of Gaddafi, and have been engaged in developing solid contingency plans for the stability of the most vital economic regions while destabilizing others in-between the regional economic hubs. This situation has the potential to close vital sea traffic between the Red Sea and Arabian Sea and if it accelerates quickly may well put the traffic thru the Persian Gulf at risk/mercy of counter measures since port and seaway blockades are typically dealt with with military means.

All of this will of coarse, allow the price of oil to rise. the problem is that the overall fuel savings did not provide any real measurable “spending the savings” injection into the economy. The price of fuel and energy went way up too fast and for far too long that it was a drain on the overall disposable income of everyone all along. We can now see what a negative effect the post economic crisis energy boom was really having. Considering actual inflation for necessities, Canadians have not seen any measurable savings in the retail, supply chain or transportation sectors due to the reduction in fuel costs, we know that any increases at the pumps, scales or meters will be felt hard by everyday Canadians.

The odd denominator is that even if we were still able to ignore the armed foreign factions, the peaceful anti-regime factions that were caught in the crossfire were all declared terrorists by some and/or liberators by others. Either way, with complete disregard to civilian casualties entire villages and communities are being bombed into ruins by their own government forces vs foreign funded mercenaries that are both engaged in scorched earth policies. Whomever keeps fighting for the most piles of rubble the longest, wins and eventual gains access to various economic aid and stimulus packages with the high interest portion of the debt shifted off as a Government obligation and the next to zero interest portion to the private interests

These facts along countless fronts and lines in-between sides and within context “paints” pretty much anyone and everyone as a hostile target, enemy and/or terrorist threat. It’s only a matter of time before someone/something of importance is downed and the tragedy and chaos that follows. It’s only a matter of time until some politico spouts off the wrong thing that lights the fuse.

Does any of this sound familiar? What about the “geographical” turf being disputed? Look at the “lines” and former boundaries of nations and empires after the tumultuous 1800’s that were drawn on paper pre-WWI. Look for connections to the competing oligarchs, moguls, robber-barons and profiteers that supported the pro-war expansionist parties and lobbies, some of the links still exist today.  and then follow whomever eventually held/holds the war debts of the winners and losers for more insight.

As in the past, the financial structure will be recalculated based upon the final holdings of the competing oligarchs and the division of power that will have afforded themselves. With these “rights” they will reserve the “right” to redraw secure trade routes, “lines” and boundaries in order to forcibly open new markets for some and close them to others. As far as Iraq is concerned, Harper advocated, without question, the deceptive 2003 strategy and subsequent invasion and destabilization of Iraq. Harper Loyalists and apologists ideologically accepted the potential for collateral damage and to this day are committed to pursing an opaque end goal of Middle East liberation and democratization, by hook or by crook. The plan is several years behind and like ll government projects, grossly over-budget and rife with corruption.

Has anyone considered that the “national” interests in Libya that Harper sent the Military to protect were none other than those of Canada’s former spy watchdog, Arthur Porter and other SNC Lavelin insiders? The timing of it all behind the backdrop of the “Arab Spring” that followed the financial “crisis” is rather intriguing. War provides a very effective duck, dust and cover opportunity for those with the inside power to wage war to their own benefit. It is also rather revealing how deep the plot(s) really are and how many of Harper’s current and past advisers and insiders have run amuck or gone rogue.

Moving back a bit to Ted Cruz and the upcoming Harper campaign, let’s ponder a few facts/fictions. The first point is that, in case anyone has not noticed, the far-right Ted Cruz will never win, period, but his “views” on Iraq/Syria, NATO and Ukraine will provide a nice background for Harper’s campaign with it’s shared agenda of instigating hostilities and division and discrediting honest questions, dialog and diplomatic/political compromise. His entry will serve to rally and kettle the far-right fringe groups into more manageable small subgroups that can/will be pigeonholed within the current North American Conservative/Republican base. They will, at least in the short term, be given maximum exposure followed by a carefully controlled rhetoric that mimics the views of the far-right in Canada. This is important because these are the far-right fringe groups that have felt betrayed by the Harper Regime. This propaganda tactic cements them into the Conservative caucus and this empowerment and coverage gives the formerly fractured fringe groups a vast illusion that they will ultimately benefit if victory is achieved, which will further radicalize them. This of coarse, will only radicalize and encourage other far-right-wing anti-elements to thrive. This sets the stage for the able, mobile and nimble enemy of the future to be created and fostered in much the same way as how, what was framed initially as an al Qaeda offshoot, IS/ISIL/ISIS has mystically conquered the Middle East. Strip out the foreign fighters and interventionists and one might be surprised that “We the People” know how to live side by side for the most part and what our regional and national interests are based upon facts on the ground, not dreaming and pondering of right-wing thinktanks.

To truly this perspective one must, at least partially, appreciate how intricate these apparatuses are linked, since this pro-war vs anti-war propaganda phenomenon has often been repeated. One only needs to look back to the pre-WWI era though the various national lenses, media presentations and political rhetoric compared to the rush into the Afghanistan and Iraq quagmires and fiasco in Libya. Keep in mind that the declared military campaign was to be “over by Christmas” and lasted years beyond and effectively set the stage for the Stock Market Crash and WWII that set the stage for the Cold War, etc. Since most publications are/were heavily censored depending upon the “official” states of war in each of these cases, one does need to differentiate between the sell-side war players, the active-side war players and the instigating, agitating warmongering and escalation sided players. Combine those sides together and the un-holy trio radicalizes into an axis with the powers of the Wall Street insider syndicates behind them.

Is it possible to acquire a true cost vs benefit to overall society analysis that is not based upon the ideological zero-sum economy that transforms sovereign state wealth into publicly subsidized debt and then concentrates the usury proceeds to the upper percentile? When one considers the above it seems as if the governments of “sovereign on paper” Nations are really nothing more than fronts for various financial criminal cabals and those that require capital.

Until next time, we’ll leave you with the following press release that pretty much sums up the state of the “independent” and “free” press…

News Release Article from  Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Statement by Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman and CEO of the CRTC, on journalistic independence

March 25, 2015 – Ottawa-Gatineau – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

One of the pillars of Canada’s broadcasting system—and, in fact, of our country’s democracy—is that journalists are able to report news stories independently and without undue editorial interference. This principle, along with other fundamental journalistic values, is enshrined in the Code of Ethics that was developed by RTDNA Canada (The Association of Electronic Journalists).

Further to section 2(3) of the Broadcasting Act, the CRTC has been entrusted by Canadians, through Parliament, to defend the principles of fair comment, freedom of expression and journalistic independence.

That a regulated company does not like one of the CRTC’s rulings is one thing. The allegation, however, that the largest communication company in Canada is manipulating news coverage is disturbing. Holding a radio or television licence is a privilege that comes with important obligations that are in the public interest, especially in regards to high-quality news coverage and reporting.

An informed citizenry cannot be sacrificed for a company’s commercial interests. Canadians can only wonder how many times corporate interests may have been placed ahead of the fair and balanced news reporting they expect from their broadcasting system.

The RTNDA Code of Ethics is administered by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. Canada’s private broadcasters, including CTV, are members of this independent body and must adhere to its codes of conduct. Complaints about this matter should be directed to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council for investigation.

We expect Canada’s broadcasters to live up to their responsibilities and adhere to a high standard in their news and information programs.

– 30 –

Contacts

Follow us on Twitter: @CRTCeng

Follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/crtceng

Media relations:
Tel.: 819-997-9403; Fax: 819-997-4245

General inquiries:
Tel.: 819-997-0313, TDD: 819-994-0423; Fax: 819-994-0218
Toll-free No.: 1-877-249-CRTC (2782)
TDD – Toll-free No.: 1-877-909-CRTC (2782)
Ask a question or make a complaint

These documents are available in alternative format upon request.

source: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=955409


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#Harper’s War(s): Ten + Reasons to Vote Against the Use of Military Force #cdnpoli #GPC #NDP #LPC #CPC

With the hyper-accelerations and unprecedented fear-mongering campaign being waged upon “We the People” of Canada and our “Allies” with regards to the “terrorist” threat posed by IS/ISIL/ISIS. With the recent tragic friendly-fire death of a Canadian soldier, the reports that an Agent employed by a Canadian intelligence organization was involved in the delivery of the 3 U.K. schoolgirls into Syria and the media blackout by the Canadian media conglomerates regarding the very important Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing titled “The President’s Request for Authorization to Use Force Against ISIS: Military and Diplomatic Efforts” (AUMF), we feel it is necessary to republish an open letter by former U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich Members of Congress detailing 10 reasons to vote against the use of military force.

The reason this is of utmost importance is that the Harper Regime is hell-bent on furthering our military intervention and has thus far been less than transparent, actually rather deceptive and opaque, regarding our role in Iraq/Syria and beyond while the U.S. is proposing an initial 3 year open ended commitment. According to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, President Barack Obama’s proposed resolution authorizing the use of military force against the Islamic State contains no geographic limitations. The proposal allows attacks on “associated persons or forces” or any “closely related successor entity” to IS/ISIL/ISIS that is at war with the United States or its partners.

Yes, this is the very same Dennis Kucinich that announced the raising of the Al Qaeda flag over the courthouse in Benghazi in Libya back in November 2011 after the “successful liberation” of Libya by NATO air power. Oddly enough, the Canadian military predicted Libya would descend into civil war and Top Pentagon officials distrusted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2011 march to war in Libya as well.

We may also presume why John Baird has decided to “quit” the game of geo-poltics, maybe there was too much blood on his hands and realized that the fix is in within the Harper Regime. Now this is extremely problematic considering the rush by the war-mongering Harper Regime to ram Bill C-51 through and the implications of these combined issues. Within a few days we have several “Allies” that are publicly stating views that counter the narrative of not only the Harper Regime, but our so called “free and independent” media conglomerates. Unlike the coordinated one-sided Ukraine/Russia propaganda campaign, this poses such an interesting and convoluted conundrum that even the AP and Reuters can’t seem to deliver a straight storyline. This is presumably, much like the dueling Israel/Iran narrative, due to the fact that their dueling narratives reach a much broader audience on both sides of the false left/right paradigm with the single solid connection that there are a small group of fear-mongering war-profiteering NeoCons within both “official” political Parties, whether they may be Liberal/Democrats or Conservative/Republicans. Below this open letter, we will embed the above mentioned video uploaded by former U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich along with another article titled “How Governments Twist Terrorism” since there seems to be no clear “definition” being presented by the Harper Regime with regards to Bill C-51 and the Harper Regime members of the Committee seem to have a serious problem asking questions of the witnesses and instead are presenting monologs to the witnesses.


Ten Reasons to Vote Against the Use of Military Force

Dear Colleague,

I was honored to serve in Congress for 16 years. During that time I provided information and helped to create debates over U.S. policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other nations, defending the Article I, Section 8 responsibilities of Congress on matters of war and peace. Those of you who know me are aware that I avoid partisanship. I have challenged Republican and Democratic administrations alike.

Congress rightfully lacks confidence in this administration, given its bungling of a war against Libya and its general mishandling of international policy.

Why would Congress, as a co-equal branch of government, be so ready to give up its constitutional power to this president with an Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), which represents a wholesale appropriation of war power?

This could be one of the most important votes you will ever cast, so I want to share with you, collegially, information that I hope will be of use in your deliberations.

I present some thoughts for your consideration as you enter into a momentous, new debate over the authorization of military force, this time against the Islamic State.

This could be one of the most important votes you will ever cast, so I want to share with you, collegially, information that I hope will be of use in your deliberations.

Here are 10 reasons why Congress should not grant the president authority to use military force against the Islamic State, based on fact, consequences and the U.S. Constitution:

  1.  ISIS is not a threat to the U.S. homeland.

Writing in The American Conservative, Senior Editor Daniel Larison points out that the U.S. is taking on an unnecessary risk:

“… the U.S. mistakenly volunteers to address a regional security problem that poses no real threat to America, [while] its regional partners do as little as they can get away with, and in some cases stop doing even that in order to get the U.S. to take additional risks on their behalf.”

If the U.S. enters the fray, of course, regional partners will let us do the fighting.

There is no credible information available that indicates ISIS is a direct threat to the U.S. According to a Wall Street Journal article, “Lawmakers Told Islamic State Isn’t Terror Threat on U.S. Soil,” Congress has already been advised by U.S. counterterrorism officials that ISIS is not a threat to the U.S. homeland. Additionally, no new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has been produced alleging ISIS is a direct threat to America. However, an all-out U.S. war against ISIS could expose America to unnecessary threats, without any national security benefits.

  1. The AUMF disingenuously calls for a “limited” war, while it is written to guarantee a permanent war, thus nullifying the power of the people’s representatives in Congress.

The framers of the U.S. Constitution were vitally concerned with the separation of powers, especially when it came to war. The power to declare war is vested in the Congress, in Article I, Section 8. The AUMF is written to enable the administration to conduct war, unilaterally, against any group, anywhere, at any time, over a period of three years, which opposing combatants will ignore.

If the administration succeeds in gaining approval for this particular AUMF, it will not have to return to Congress for approval as it takes its war from nation to nation. This is clearly contrary to the intent of the founders. It weakens Congress’ constitutional power (checks and balances) and undermines the Constitution.

  1. The AUMF is a blank check and a fiscal black hole.

Since the AUMF sets the stage for a worldwide conflict, the cost of action will run into the hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of dollars, particularly if ground troops are involved in a war with religious overtones that go back 14 centuries. This war will inevitably require an emergency wartime supplemental appropriation and massive borrowing, adding to the $16 trillion U.S. deficit and weakening the U.S. economy internally while providing great wealth to war profiteers who are already draining America’s wealth.

  1. Regional armies appear to be rising to their own defense; U.S. presence will escalate war.

At this very moment ISIS is finally under pressure from Iraqi forces and pro-government militias, without U.S. boots on the ground. Additionally, ISIS is said to be experiencing internal pressures and conflicts. The Washington Post points out: “The Islamic State is battling major offensives waged on at least three fronts — by Kurds in northern Syria, Kurds in northern Iraq and the combined force of Iraqi army and Shiite militia fighters advancing on the central Iraqi city of Tikrit.”

“…the risks of escalation are enormous. The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself. The provocative videos, in which a black-hooded executioner addresses President Obama by name, are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An [U.S.] invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide … they all believe that the United States wants to embark on a modern-day Crusade and kill Muslims.” — Graeme Wood in the Atlantic Magazine, March 2015.

ISIS desperately needs to draw the U.S. in, to provide a rallying cry “against the foreign invader.” Why should America put our troops in harm’s way to provide this terrorist organization with new life, especially since armies in the region are stepping up to take the fight to ISIS?

In the AUMF, the president wants language that provides for U.S. ground forces to have “flexibility.” Read: “Boots on the ground!” If Congress passes the AUMF, it will have no say in the conduct of this war, except for appropriations.

  1. The U.S. could get drawn into a worldwide religious war.

President Obama says, “We are not at war against Islam.” Congressional approval of the president’s request for the AUMF against the Islamic State will change that quickly. The AUMF will become a powerful recruiting tool for ISIS. How else will it be interpreted abroad, other than America at war with Islam? The U.S. could blunder into a complex, multidimensional conflict with explicit religious overtones, no matter what the president says.

ISIS wants to draw the U.S. into a religious war, to secure its role as the self-proclaimed defender of Islam against crusading foreign invaders.

Jihadis, anticipating a great war for Islam, have streamed into the region from all over the world to join ISIS ranks. An estimated 20,000 fighters from 90 nations have converged to fight alongside ISIS.

“This is a fight the Islamic State should be denied. And yet we should have learned that it is a bad idea to get into a ground war with people whose idea of victory is martyrdom.” — Richard Cohen in the Washington Post, Feb. 23, 2015.

  1. ISIS and Al Qaeda are divided. US re-entry into war could unite them.

ISIS and Al Qaeda are in a deep rift. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri differ on strategy, tactics, methods, religious interpretations and on Baghdadi’s establishment of a caliphate.

An all-out U.S. military attack against ISIS will force Al Qaeda into an alliance it does not want, to join ISIS in a “fight against Western invaders,” creating a united front much stronger and more deadly to America and her allies.

  1. A Solution: Follow ISIS’ money, and shut it down.

Where is ISIS getting its money? Up to 100,000 ISIS fighters are funded by Gulf State donors, identified in the past as being from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. Fully equipping and providing for one modern combat-ready soldier can cost $850,000 to $1,000,000 a year. ISIS’ army could be gaining $85 billion to $100 billion a year from various sources. We can either commit the U.S. military to another war, and the U.S. to further risk of impending attacks through the genesis of a new crusade, or we can fight this threat with intelligent power and high technology.

The administration must identify the specific sources of ISIS’ money, the individuals, the nations and the means of transfer, and shut them all down. It must sanction countries and individuals, tie up their bank accounts and commercial activities, freeze their assets and cancel their credit cards. Send platoons of accountants from the Treasury Department and the IRS into the fray, not platoons of U.S. soldiers. The U.S. must track oil sales, sales of antiquities and other valuables. Anyone involved in any transactions of any kind with ISIS must be identified and sanctioned.

  1. Solution: Cyber response.

The U.S. has the ability to identify and disrupt terror networks using digital technology. The CIA, in a major reorganization, has just created a fifth directorate, the Directorate of Digital Innovation, in recognition that intelligent power means using the most technologically advanced tools available. For its part, the NSA, which has admitted gaps, is also strengthening its information collecting. If, as Clausewitz said, “War is the continuation of politics by other means,” in the 21st century we  have other means to avoid a “boots on the ground” shooting war.

  1. Endless wars enable Washington to ignore a domestic agenda.

It has been said that others attack us in order to destroy the way we live. Since 9/11, our own government has been responsible for shredding the Constitution through wars of choice and the imposition of a national security state with a permanent state of emergency.

The U.S. now spends about $1 trillion a year to “defend” America using lethal means. Yet the more money we spend, the greater the peril. Why? Meanwhile, at home, America’s middle class is falling apart, wages and benefits have dropped, retirement savings have vanished and Wall Street and war profiteers clean up. Americans, punished through unwarranted, massive surveillance, have forfeited constitutional rights and civil liberties. The right to privacy, which is protected by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, has been destroyed in the name of security.

  1. The time has come for the U.S. to review the effects of interventionism.

ISIS grew out of U.S. interventions. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria have disintegrated into chaos and violence. The price tag has been extraordinary in loss of human life and the cost of trillions of dollars. Bad judgments, misinformation and even lies have caused our nation to intervene, inspiring radical elements, stoking the fires of nationalism and engendering religious conflict. A great price has been paid and continues to be paid by our troops and their families.

This is the time for Congress and the administration to rethink the failed national security strategy, the failed doctrine of intervention, the failed “right to protect” doctrine and the abominable intrusion into the private lives of Americans.

Congress must refuse to give up its constitutional power under Article I, Section 8 and hold the executive branch in check on matters of war. It should defeat the AUMF and stop the administration from spreading war around the world.

Congress has a new opportunity to get control of runaway spending and keep America strong without wasting resources. In my early years in Congress, I was shocked to learn, from the inspector general to the Department of Defense, that DOD had over $1 trillion in accounts that could not be reconciled. According to the GAO, the Army “lost track of 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch units.” The Constitution, Article I, Section 9, requires an accounting. With the national security budget at $1 trillion annually, and trillions spent for wars of choice, and a trillion unaccounted for, and countless billions in cost overruns, the question is who is defending the taxpayers?

The Authorization for the Use of Military Force provides a new opportunity for a much-needed debate over the direction of America, our priorities and the best way to protect our nation from harm. Thank you for considering my views.

Respectfully,

Dennis Kucinich
Member of Congress 1997 – 2013

source: http://www.kucinich.com/?_escaped_fragment_=10-Reasons-to-Vote-Against-the-Use-of-Military-Force/c1z12/5500a8330cf27b8ab26b528e
http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/03/11/open-letter-to-members-congress-about-authorization-to-use-military-force/


Uploaded on Nov 2, 2011

Hi, Congressman Dennis Kucinich here. I just got off the phone with a very well-known talk show host from Cleveland, Mike Trivisonno, who told me about calls that he is getting from people who are concerned that there is an Al Qaeda flag flying over the courthouse in Benghazi in Libya. It was put there by the same group that we helped to oust the Gaddafi regime.

What is going on in America? On the one hand, we have soldiers dying in Afghanistan fighting Al Qaeda. On the other hand, we just helped a group of people take over Libya and the Al Qaeda flag is flying over their capital city headquarters.

What are we doing? It is time for America to get its story and its priorities straight about what we stand for as a nation. Its time to get out of all these wars and all of these conflicts where we think we can play both sides against the middle and it usually ends up with U.S. soldiers getting killed.

Its time to bring our troops home and take care of things here at home. As we approach Veteran’s Day 2011, we should really honor those who serve by having a foreign policy that is straight. That speaks directly to the concerns of the American people. That is mindful of the fact that we can’t tell the whole world what to do and we have an obligation to get our own house in order here at home and put people back to work.

source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0FQzhWy0VI


How Governments Twist Terrorism
By Philip Giraldi | March 12, 2015

States craft terror definitions and designations to absolve themselves and satisfy their constituencies.

The Washington Post reports that “terrorism trend lines are ‘worse than at any other point in history.’” But what is terrorism? It has frequently been pointed out that “terrorism” is a tactic, not an actual physical adversary, but it is less often noted that a simple definition of what constitutes terrorism is hardly universally accepted, while the designation itself is essentially political. The glib assertion that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter fails to capture the distinction’s consequences as the terror label itself increasingly comes with a number of legal and practical liabilities attached. Describing an organization as terroristic in order to discredit it has itself become a tactic, and one that sometimes has only limited connections to what the group in question actually believes or does.

The bone of contention in defining terrorism is where to draw the line in terms of the use of violence in furtherance of a political objective. In practice, it is generally accepted that state players who employ violence do so within a social framework that confers legitimacy, while nonstate players who use political violence are ipso facto terrorists, or at least susceptible to being tagged with that label, which confers upon them both illegitimacy and a particularly abhorrent criminality. But some on the receiving end of such a Manichean distinction object, noting that the laws defining terror are themselves drawn up by the governments and international organizations, which inevitably give themselves a pass in terms of their own potential liability. They would argue that established regimes will inevitably conspire to label their enemies terrorists to marginalize both resistance movements and internal dissent in such a way as to diminish the credibility of the groups that are so targeted. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently been doing precisely that, and one might reasonably argue that government use of violence is often in practice indistinguishable from the actions of nonstate players.

Some common dictionary definitions of terrorism include engaging in “the systematic use of terror,” surely an indication of the inscrutability of an issue when the word must be used to define itself. The United Nations has been unsuccessfully negotiating a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism since 2002 that would define terror as causing death or serious injury or destroying or damaging public or private property “to intimidate a population, or to compel a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act.”   The United States Federal criminal code uses similar language, as does the Patriot Act, with the key elements being the use of violence or physical destruction to “intimidate or coerce” a civilian population or an existing government.

Governments are aware of what can be accomplished by invoking the word “terrorism.” The diplomacy-averse United States frequently hides behind the label, as it is prohibited by law from negotiating with groups so-labeled, and thereby avoids having to confront the possible legitimacy of what they represent. And it also justifies a uniformly violent response, which is invariably described as self-defense.

Fourteen years ago the “global war on terror” was used to justify wholesale American intervention in predominantly Muslim countries. A number of European countries, including France and Britain, have followed the example of the two Patriot Acts by introducing antiterrorism legislation that provides special police and intelligence service authorities that limit normal legal protections in terrorism cases. The broadly written laws have largely rendered the authorities immune from either regulation or prosecution, and governments in the West have generally been reluctant to allow any third-party inquiries into the related behavior of military and police forces. In the United States the state secret privilege, originally intended to prohibit the exposure of classified information in court, has been used to completely derail judicial proceedings relating to offenses allegedly committed by the government in terrorism cases.

And critics of the essentially hypocritical double standard used in defining terrorism certainly have a point. One might reasonably argue that the use of drones, in which “signature” targets are killed because they match a profile, fits comfortably within the definition of terrorism. During 2003-4, American Army and Marine forces in Fallujah sometimes shelled and bombed targets in the city indiscriminately and were certainly responsible for hundreds of civilian deaths. The Israeli Defense Forces killed thousands of civilians in two incursions into Gaza as well as several attacks on Lebanon. There was no declaration of war to justify the use of armed force in either case, and independent observers noted that many of the civilian casualties could have been avoided, normally a defining factor that makes an incident terror. Both Israel and the United States turned the tables on the situation by referring to their opponents and victims as “terrorists.” There has been no accountability for the deaths because it was two governments that carried out the killing.

In a world seemingly obsessed with terrorism it was inevitable that something like an anti-terrorism industry would grow dramatically. Every television and radio network has its own stable of pundits who pontificate on every violent incident, and there also are well-compensated freelancers, who describe themselves as experts, such as Evan Kohlmann and Steve Emerson. Emerson recently had to apologize after claiming that Birmingham, England had a number of no-go areas controlled by local Muslim extremists.

It should be no surprise that lawyers have now also gotten into the game. In 1996 Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which allows victims of terrorism to file civil suits in federal and state courts against sponsors or supporters of terrorism. Once you have a group or individual labeled as terrorist, or providing assistance to terrorists, there are a number of options you can pursue. The burgeoning antiterrorism industry appears to be in some ways linked to the increasing employment of Lawfare, which uses the legal system to wage war by alternative means, making it possible to obtain a favorable judgment and damages from the assets of a recognized terrorist organization. Such litigation benefits from favorable legislation in the United States that makes terrorism a worldwide crime subject to U.S. judicial review.

Recent court cases have involved both states that allegedly sponsor terrorism or actual organizations that are now parts of governments that either currently or at one time were perceived to be terrorists. Many of the groups targeted are enemies of Israel, and the Israeli Lawfare center Shurat HaDin is most active in pursuing such litigation. In a recent case in New York City, the Palestinian Authority was successfully sued by a group of Israelis and Americans over terrorist attacks that took place in Israel in 2002-4. If the appeal fails, the Palestinian Authority will be required to pay $1 billion in damages and will be bankrupted, with negative consequences for the United States, which has been seeking to create a viable government on the West Bank.

The U.S. Department of State identifies four countries as state sponsors of terrorism, making them prime targets for sanctions and other legal action. They are Cuba, Sudan, Syria and Iran. Cuba is an anomaly as it has not threatened anyone in decades but remains on the list due to the deep passions within America’s politically powerful Cuban Lobby. Sudan likewise should not be so designated, as even the U.S. government admits that it is cooperative on terrorism issues.

This leaves Syria and Iran, both of which are regarded as state sponsors of terrorism even though both are themselves victims of terrorist attacks carried out by groups supported by the United States. They are on the list because they harbor or cooperate with Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. All three groups consider themselves to be resistance movements against the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, but Israel regards all three as terrorists, a view shared by the United States on the state department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization list. That viewpoint is not necessarily shared by many European governments, which regard the organizations as having evolved into legitimate political parties. There are also thousands of individuals and groups considered to be terroristic or criminal, collected by the U.S. Department of Justice on its Special Designated Nationals List. Individuals and organizations on the list have their assets blocked and are subject to other punitive action by the United States government.

Being designated by the Department of the Treasury or state does not necessarily mean that someone or some organization was actually involved in terrorism. The Texas-based Holy Land Foundation, an Islamic charity, was declared a terrorist organization in 2001. Its officers were convicted and imprisoned in a 2008 trial because the Treasury Department determined ex post facto that it had given money to Hamas before that group was itself named as a terrorist organization.

Inclusion on the State or Treasury lists can mean that there is solid evidence of wrongdoing, but it can also represent mere insinuations or a strong desire to see a group singled out for punishment. In any event, once a group or person is designated for a list, it is difficult to get off. Organizations that have not engaged in terrorist activity for many years remain on the list while other groups that are active escape censure. Recently, the Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian terrorist group that killed six Americans in the 1970s, was removed from the list under political pressure from Congress and the media. Again, Israel was involved. MEK is an enemy of the current government in Tehran and is itself an important component of the Israeli intelligence effort against Iran, having been involved in the fabrication of information suggesting that Iran has an active nuclear weapons program as well as participating in the assassinations of Tehran’s scientists.

So what terrorism actually consists of very much depends on one’s perspective, rendering the word itself largely meaningless. But those who are listed as terrorists experience real consequences even accepting that the designation is both selectively applied and politicized. The United States and Israel in particular use the terrorism label to demonize opponents, drum up fear, and generate popular support for security policies that might otherwise be unpalatable. They also justify their own behavior by asserting that they occupy the moral high ground in the defense of the world against terror, a claim that certainly should be regarded with considerable skepticism.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-governments-twist-terrorism/

 

 


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ATTN: @pmharper + #CPC re: #FirstNations + #Aboriginals + #ReconciliationActionPlan = #cdnpoli #NurembergSolution

Before this gets outta hand it may be time to begin the act of reconciliation in Canada NOW, as opposed to delivering empty apologies. Here is what may be a simple initial solution that may, possible, potentially, maybe, kinda, sorta acceptable, if you are lucky. while that simmers a bit, we utilized a hashtagged tweetable title to remind ya when we share this article around the interwebs, so be sure to have Harper’s Kiddies lots o’ RedBull and other keep awake and alert remedies. Continue reading ATTN: @pmharper + #CPC re: #FirstNations + #Aboriginals + #ReconciliationActionPlan = #cdnpoli #NurembergSolution

#Harper #Gold #Davos #Soros and #CurrencyWars

#Harper #Gold #Davos #Soros & #CurrencyWars

By @livewordcanada 2013/01/24 via #Ottawapiskat… The birth of a hashtag

We are perplexed and puzzled about the timing of why Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s wife Laureen [1], “liquidated her entire portfolio of stock market investments late last year.” Oddly enough, several other “global” factors, central banks [2], investors [3] as well as other anomalies that add to the confusion. This brings us to another topic and point to ponder, Why is Deutsche Bundesbank demanding it’s gold reserves back and will this escalate and initiate more global currency wars? Then we consider the rather bleak announcement and admission from Bank of Canada’s outgoing Mark Carney “The slowdown in the second half of 2012 was more pronounced than the Bank had anticipated”. One thing is certain, something is rotten in #Ottawapiskat and Martha Stewart comes to mind for some reason. For our next chapter in the #Ottawapiskat for #Upsettlers: #ShagTheDog series featuring #Bundesbank, #Gold and #CurrencyWars.

Continue reading #Harper #Gold #Davos #Soros and #CurrencyWars

Salafism and Arab Democratization

Salafism and Arab Democratization

By Kamran Bokhari
Vice President of Middle Eastern & South Asian Affairs
October 2, 2012 | 0900 GMT

The outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2011 brought significant attention to groups — known as Islamists — seeking to establish Islamic states in countries once ruled by secular autocrats. The bulk of this attention went to already established political groups such as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which caused consternation in the West when its Freedom and Justice Party won control of both Egypt’s parliament and its presidency.

Much less attention was paid to the Brotherhood’s principal Islamist competitors, members of the ultraconservative Salafist movement, despite their second-place finish in Egypt’s parliamentary elections. This changed in late September when certain Salafists played a key role in the unrest in reaction to an anti-Islamic video posted on the Internet.

Since then, Salafism has become the subject of much public discourse — though as is often the case with unfamiliar subjects, questions are vastly more numerous than answers. This is compounded by the rapidity of its rise from a relatively minor, apolitical movement to an influential Islamist phenomenon.

Origins and Goals of Salafism

Modern Salafism is based on an austere reinterpretation of Islam, calling for Muslims to return to the original teachings outlined in the Koran and the practices of the Prophet Mohammed as understood by the earliest generation, i.e., the Companions of the Prophet. From the Salafist perspective, non-Islamic thought has contaminated the message of “true” Islam for centuries, and this excess must be jettisoned from the Islamic way of life.

Salafists are a minority among the global Muslim population and even among Islamists. Unlike members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists do not belong to a singular organization. Instead, the movement comprises a diffuse agglomeration of neighborhood preachers, societal groups and — only very recently — political parties, none of which are necessarily united in ideology.

In many ways, Salafism can be seen as a rejection of the political ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. For most of the movement’s existence, it shunned politics — and thus Islamism — in favor of a focus on personal morality and individual piety, arguing that an Islamic state could not exist without Muslims first returning to the tenets of “true” Islam. This means Salafism also was at odds with the concept of jihadism — itself a violent offshoot of Salafism — as practiced by groups such as al Qaeda that sought to use force to manifest their Islamist ideology.

The Salafist movement could also afford to stay away from political activism in large part because it had a political backer in the government of Saudi Arabia. While many Salafists didn’t agree with some of Riyadh’s policies, its historical role as the birthplace of Salafism and role as the patron underwriting the global spread of Salafist thought kept the movement within the Saudi orbit.

This remained the case until the 1991 Gulf War, in which Saudi Arabia was forced to allow some 500,000 U.S. troops into the kingdom to protect itself from Baathist Iraq, after the latter’s brief occupation of Kuwait. The move caused an uproar over the religious legitimacy of allowing non-Muslim soldiers on what many consider to be holy grounds, and it also gave way to a wider debate about the political state of affairs of the Saudi kingdom. Prominent scholars began publicly calling for reform, which led to Salafists in general engaging in political discourse and, eventually, to the concept of Salafism as an Islamist philosophy.

Nevertheless, Salafists would not become a political force for another two decades, simply because it takes time for an apolitical religious movement to develop a political philosophy. At the same time, the Saudi leadership was rallying the country’s religious establishment to contain these newly politicized Salafists. The 9/11 attacks and subsequent U.S. actions against jihadism further advanced Salafist thought as the sect tried to hold on to its core values amid U.S.-led international pressure for reform, distinguish itself from jihadists and come up with a viable political alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Arab Spring

By the end of the 2000s, Salafism had spread across the Arab world, most notably to Egypt and Tunisia, expanding both the number of its adherents and its institutional scope, which now included social organizations engaged in charity, relief and community work. They stopped short of formal political groups, largely because of the autocratic regimes under which they lived, but they quietly developed the infrastructure for such groups. It was under these circumstances that the Salafists found themselves at the beginning of the Arab Spring.

The case of Egypt’s Salafists is the most telling. Like the Muslim Brotherhood, they were caught unprepared when the popular agitation largely led by liberal youth groups broke out and began to consume decades-old secular autocratic regimes. While they eventually were able to overshadow the largely non-Islamist forces that played a key role in forcing the ouster of then-President Hosni Mubarak, they lacked the political machine that the Brotherhood had developed over the course of some 80 years. The result was the rise of various Salafist forces haphazardly trying to assert themselves in a post-authoritarian Egypt.

Several Egyptian Salafist groups applied for licenses to form political parties. Two prominent parties — al-Nour and al-Asala — emerged along with a host of individuals, such as Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, who ran as an independent candidate for president. The two Salafist parties banded together with the newly formed political wing of the former jihadist group Gamaa al-Islamiya — the Building and Development Party — to form the Islamist Bloc. The alliance was able to garner more than a quarter of ballots cast in the parliamentary polls late last year, coming in second place behind the Brotherhood.

What was most important about these Salafists participating in mainstream politics is that they embraced the electoral process after decades of having denounced democracy as un-Islamic. In other words, they ultimately adopted the approach of the Muslim Brotherhood, which they had hitherto vehemently rejected. This transformation has been more a rushed affair stemming from expediency rather than a natural ideological evolution.

There is an expectation that radical forces joining the political mainstream could, over time, lead to their de-radicalization. That may be true in the case of states with strong democratic systems, but in most Arab countries — which are just now beginning their journey away from authoritarianism — the Salafist embrace of electoral politics is likely to delay and perhaps even disrupt the democratization process and destabilize Egypt and by extension the region.

Much of this chaos will stem from the fact that the move to accept democratic politics has led to further fragmentation of the Salafist landscape. Many Salafists still are not comfortable with democracy, and those who have cautiously adopted it are divided into many factions. The result is that no one Salafist entity can speak for the bulk of the sect.

What Lies Ahead

Clearly, the Salafists are bereft of any tradition of civil dissent. That said, they have exhibited a strong sense of urgency to exercise their nascent freedom and engage in political activism. The outcome of this was the rioting that took place in reaction to the anti-Islamic film.

The Salafists are not just suffering from arrested political development; they face an intellectual discrepancy. On one hand, they wish to be part of the new democratic order and a mainstream player. On the other, they subscribe to a radical agenda that dictates the imposition of their stern interpretation of Islamic law across the Arab and Muslim world.

Their envisioned order is not just a problem for secularists, Christians, Jews and other minorities but also for more moderate Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood lost its monopoly on Islamism close to four decades ago but back then it didn’t matter because the Brotherhood was an opposition movement. Now that the group has won political power in Egypt, the Salafists represent a threat to its political interests.

Some of the more politically savvy Salafists, especially the political parties, are willing to work with the Muslim Brotherhood toward the common goals of furthering the democratic transition and containing radical and militant tendencies. Ultimately, however, they seek to exploit the Brotherhood’s pragmatism in order to undermine the mainstream Islamist movement’s support among religious voters. Additionally, the Salafists are also trying to make use of their role as mediators between the Brotherhood-led government and the jihadists active in the Sinai region to enhance their bargaining power and lessen the Brotherhood’s.

Salafists — whether they operate through legal means or through raw street power — can be expected to create problems for Egypt’s new government led by President Mohammed Morsi, especially when it comes to foreign policy matters. A prime example is the recent case of the film-related violence, during which Morsi had a difficult time balancing the need to placate the masses at home and maintain a working relationship with the United States, upon which Egypt relies for its economic well-being. While the anger over the film is a passing phenomenon, the underlying dynamic persists.

There is also no shortage of issues for right-wing Islamists to exploit. U.S. imperatives in the region will continue to place the Morsi government in a tight spot and provide reasons for the Salafists to oppose Cairo’s policies. Even more volatile than the dealings between the Morsi administration and Washington will be Israeli-Egyptian relations.

So far, Morsi has managed to avoid dealing too directly with Israel. But the Egyptian president and the Brotherhood cannot avoid this for too long. They know that they will face situations where they could be caught between the need to maintain peaceful relations with Israel and deal with Salafists taking advantage of the widespread anti-Israeli sentiment among Egyptians. This is one of the reasons Morsi and his associates have been speaking of revising the peace treaty with Israel, which is an attempt to manage the inevitable backlash on the home front.

Egypt’s difficulties are particularly pronounced given the country’s status as the leader of the Arab world, but Salafists of various stripes are slowly emerging as political stakeholders across the region, especially in Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Democratization by its very nature is a messy affair in any context, but in the case of the Arab spring, Salafist entities can be expected to complicate political transitions and undermine stability and security in the Middle East.

The major challenge to stability in the Arab world thus lies only partially in the transition to democracy from autocracy. Greater than that is the challenge mainstream Islamists face from a complex and divided Salafist movement.

Salafism and Arab Democratization is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

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The week in media ethics at The Globe and Mail

By David Akin
September 30th, 2012

A couple of years ago, shortly after becoming Sun Media’s National Bureau Chief, I stood in front of Rideau Hall along with a couple of dozen other reporters hopeful of being picked by the PMO press handlers in order that I might put one — just one — question to Prime Minister Stephen Harper about an issue that had made front pages in our chain and that we had been writing about for nearly a week. The issue for us was the use of taxpayer funds to help a theatre festival in Toronto stage a sympathetic portrait of one of the Toronto 18, the would-be terrorists who plotted to blow up a chunk of downtown Toronto. Almost no other news organization was picking up on that story except for theatre critics who took issue with our coverage of the issue. (A blog post at The Torontoist contains a chronological accounting of our coverage of that issue and the fallout that seems pretty accurate to me.)

The big issue for The Globe and Mail‘s reporter that morning outside Rideau Hall was the government’s decision to make the long-form census questionnaire voluntary instead of mandatory. Reporter Steven Chase wanted to ask the prime minister about this issue.

The PMO was letting us put only four questions to Harper day, two in French, two in English. Chase, I and others huddled to see if there was some consensus among us reporters about the topics we should bring up in our two English-langage question. There was no consensus and when I was picked for one of the English questions and I asked him about the theatre festival. Neither I nor any of three other interlocutors that morning asked about the census.

Chase wrote a story for his readers about how the prime minister didn’t answer a question on the census.  It was titled “Why Harper wasn’t asked about census” Meanwhile, I wrote a story for my readers about an issue we’d be covering for a week at that point.

Which brings us to Saturday’s Globe and Mail.

ON A6 of my print edition, reporter Campbell Clark reports on a meeting  Harper and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had in New York City. I, too, reported on that story for my chain and, though we went about reporting on that meeting in a different way, the main angle for both our stories was similar: that Canada would not be drawing “red lines” around Iran’s nuclear program that Iran must not cross if it wants to avoid a war. This meeting was the final one of two days in New York City during which Harper met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Henry Kissinger, Haiti President Michael Martelly, and received an award and made a speech at a ceremony put on by the Appeal of Conscience of Foundation. All through these events – and despite repeated requests from the several Canadian reporters in New York covering these events — Harper took no questions from reporters about any of these activities.

This last fact, Clark noted in his story on A6 of my edition of The Globe and Mail, writing ”Mr. Harper did not take questions from reporters, so he did not detail his views on the issue.” 

And yet, before I got to page A6 of my edition of The Globe and Mail, I went past A3 where Globe reporter Patrick White details his interview that very same day with Harper.  Indeed, White’s third paragraph lets us know that Iran, Netanyahu were probably top of Harper’s mind until he met White:

“Stephen Harper paced into the room looking the part of the serious statesman. He was a few hours removed from meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Iran’s nuclear program. But soon the 53-year-old politician’s mind is racing back to John G. Althouse Middle School in Etobicoke. He is 13 years old. A grin — a real bring, not the stage managed one — stretches across his face and remains there for the entire interview.”

Never mind this almost hilariously overwritten setup, the entire interview appears to be about hockey and, specifically, the Summit Series of 1972. Unless there’s more of the interview to come,  nowhere does White ask Harper the questions that Clark, a few pages later, appears to be interested in and so “he [still] did not detail his views on the issue.” But we do know that Harper thinks the 72 summit series was important. In fact, the answers White elicited from Harper appear to be nearly identical to the information he would provide in a speech that night in Toronto.

Neither White nor a Globe and Mail editor explain why Harper does not “detail his views” more fully on the Iran issue during their apparently “exclusive” interview with Harper.

This comes, mind you, at the end of a week in which Globe editors have been doing a lot of explaining about the way their newspaper goes about the business of serving its readers.

Those three issues are really issues between the Globe and its readers. But that Patrick White interview with Harper a few hours after he refused to answer any questions from Canadian reporters in New York? Well, I wonder if Steven Chase or another Globe reporter will enlighten us with another story entitled perhaps “Why we didn’t ask Harper about Iran and Netanyahu”.

source: http://blogs.canoe.ca/davidakin/main-page/the-week-in-media-ethics-at-the-globe-and-mail/


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Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada at the Appeal of Conscience Foundation’s Annual Awards Dinner

28 September 2012
New York City, New York

Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered the following remarks at the Appeal of Conscience Foundation’s Annual Awards Dinner:

“Thank you very much Rabbi Schneier, Chairman Chenevert, Louis; my colleagues Ministers Baird, Kent, Fantino,Ablonczy; Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai; Senator Wallin; Ambassadors Doer and Rishchynski; High Commissioner Campbell; Consul General Prado; my fellow award winners Vikram Pandit and Virginia Rometty; all the honoured guests of our head table and distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.

“First, I want to begin by thanking Henry Kissinger for that generous introduction.

“I have to say Dr. Kissinger, I am of course aware not only of your immense contributions to your country and international relations, but I have long been an admirer.

“I have to tell you, I have been an admirer indeed since before I was old enough to vote.

“So being able to share the stage with you and to be introduced really does mean a great deal to me.

“I’m also, of course, honoured and want to thank Rabbi Schneier for the fact that we are all here tonight.

“I don’t just refer to this large and impressive gathering, but more particularly to the cause for which you have brought it together and have brought it together for so many years.

“In a globe of conflicting and complex and competing interests, it is far too easy to set aside the silent and subtle appeals of the conscience.

“But, if we do, the world is lost.

“You have made it your life work to take the horrors of your own experience and to use them to remind us of something truly hopeful: the freedom and human dignity of every person.

“And so you have our admiration and our appreciation!

“Ladies and Gentlemen, it is upon this foundation – of freedom and human dignity – that Canada seeks, in an uncertain world to articulate a foreign policy built on certain principles.

“These principles are rooted in our own country’s ancient heritage and long practice of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

“But it is more than that.

“On foreign affairs, there is a widely shared consensus among Canadians, a generosity of spirit that one might describe as a simple desire for fair play.

“We Canadians, for example, are very conscious of our own sovereignty and we expect our governments to make pragmatic decisions in Canada’s national interest.

“But we also want those governments to be good world citizens, to try to understand other points of view and to act in concert with our partners, for the wider interests of humanity.

“That is, of course, not the same thing, friends, as trying to court every dictator with a vote at the United Nations or just going along with every emerging international consensus, no matter how self-evidently wrong-headed.

“When confronted with evil in the world, we do take a stand, we take strong, principled positions in our dealings, whether popular or not.

“And that is what the world has counted on from Canada – and received – in two world wars, in Korea, in a generation of peacekeeping operations, Gulf War One, and of course, most recently in Afghanistan and also in Libya.

“Finally, I came to tell you that Canadians are proud, fiercely proud, of the reputation we have established for both a competitive economy and a compassionate society, and for the unparalleled combination of cultural diversity and harmony which draws to us people of all nations.

“In short, ladies and gentlemen, I come here tonight to accept your award, not for any qualities of my own, but on behalf of the unique and magnificent country that I have the privilege of leading.

“Among the many assets of Canada is its neighbourhood.

“That is to say that Canada has only one real neighbour, and it is the best neighbour any nation could possibly have.

“Now Rabbi, we do remember that 200 years ago this year began the last war between our two countries, the war that effectively established our independence.

“That our comparatively small country has since lived in secure peace and growing prosperity for almost two centuries is a testament to the enduring strength and the essential benevolence of the United States of America.

“So thank you for our great partnership and for your unwavering friendship.

“And, friends, allow me in this vein to offer you, let me offer you our unequivocal condemnation and outrage over the recent anti-American riots around your embassies and the deadly attack upon your consulate in Libya, and the deep sympathies of the Canadian people for all who lost friends and loved ones in that violent event.

“And that, ladies and gentlemen, brings me to want I want to do tonight which is a brief reflection on the state of the world in which we live and the state of our values in the world in which we live.

“I referred a few moments ago to our uncertain world.

“What are the uncertainties and what are their consequences?

“The years through which we are now passing seem to be times of extraordinary change, as if some great hand is spinning the wheel of history.

“Nations with a history of shared values, like many of our friends in Europe, are weighed down by debts they cannot seem to control, by entitlements they can no longer afford, and by sluggish economies that show few signs of growth.

“Meanwhile, new powers are rising, whose commitments to our ideals are often neither firm nor clear.

“What appears to some a hopeful spring for democracy quickly becomes an angry summer of populism.

“Old resentments seem to come back to life, energizing groups who advocate terror and dangerous, rogue states seek nuclear weapons.

“Of course, these great global changes often present us global opportunities.

“The world is probably a freer and more democratic place today when I look at it than at any point in my lifetime.

“Yet, paradoxically, rarely has the future of the free and democratic world been less secure.

“As I said, some new powers are neither sure friends nor implacable foes.

“Because these are perhaps the most difficult, the hardest to evaluate, I will not elaborate on them here other than to say, it is ever important in interacting with them that we clearly understand and always remember what we are dealing with.

“Other countries, however, constitute unambiguously a clear and present danger and thus demand a very sober assessment.

“First among these is the Government of Iran.

“I speak not merely, friends, of its appalling record of human rights abuse or its active assistance to the brutal regime in Syria, or its undeniable support for terrorist entities, or its continued denial of diplomatic rights, or its pursuit of nuclear weapons, rather it is the combination of all these things with a truly malevolent ideology that should concern us.

“I believe that the appeal of our conscience requires us to speak out against what the Iranian regime stands for.

“Likewise, it requires us to speak in support of the country that its hatred most immediately threatens, the State of Israel.

“Now friends, in supporting Israel, we don’t sanction every policy its government pursues.

“When, however, it is the one country of the global community whose very existence is threatened, our Government does refuse to use international fora to single out Israel for criticism.

“And it is important to state, that whatever Israel’s shortcomings, neither its existence nor its policies are responsible for the pathologies present in that part of the world.

“And we are also mindful of an lesson of history, that those who single out the Jewish people as a target of racial and religious bigotry will inevitably be a threat to all of us.

“Indeed, those who so target Israel today are, by their own words and deeds, also a threat to all free and democratic societies.

“Now friends, I say these things not to counsel any particular action, not to wish any additional hardship on the long-suffering Iranian people and certainly not to advocate war, but rather so that we not shrink from recognizing evil in the world for what it is.

“Our Government simply contends that the international community must do more, must do all it can, to further pressure and isolate this regime.

“Ladies and gentlemen, let me just conclude with this.

“We should never consider others evil merely because they disagree with us or because they compete with us.

“But where evil dominates, you will invariably find irreconcilable disagreement with the ideals that animate Canada, America and like-minded nations, the ideals which assert that all people possess human dignity and should be accorded equal rights.

“It is not for Canada to lecture others, but it is the responsibility of our Government to make the choices that circumstances force upon us, and these are the choices we shall make.

“First, we shall choose our friends well.

“And our true friends are those who to their core both respect the will of their majority and the rights of their minorities.

“Second, we shall deal openly and fairly with those who may not be our friends, but we will not deceive ourselves about those relationships.

“And we shall not sacrifice our guiding principles in the interests of some transient advantage.

“Third, we shall endeavour to recognize clear and unequivocal threats and we shall speak out against them when they stand before us.

“And finally this, for ourselves, we shall strive to manage our own house, our economy and our finances, in such a way that our own freedom of action is not compromised.

”Because we must remember that the ideals for which we stand may be invaluable, but they are not invincible.

“They require our countries to be vigilant and well governed.

“And they require us to forever impress their privileged nature upon our successive generations.

“We therefore must hold on to them ourselves and teach them to our children.

“We must speak of democracy in our schools.

“We must praise freedom as we go out and justice as we come in.

“We must value our institutions and their endurance.

“And we must cherish the individual rights for which our ancestors bled and inscribe upon our hearts, the vision of citizens who know what it is to live without fear.

“For in the end, that is the mark of liberty.

“My friends, if we do these things, our nations shall endure and shall continue to inspire others.

“And those of us to whom leadership has been entrusted will have done all that can be expected of them.

“Thank you very much for having me, for the honour you’ve extended, for your invitation this evening.”

source: http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?category=3&featureId=6&pageId=49&id=5052


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Canada will not issue ultimatum for Iran

By Campbell Clark
New York — The Globe and Mail
September 28 2012

Canada will not publicly set “red lines” that Iran must not cross if it wants to avoid a war over its nuclear program, rebuffing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call to back him on issuing an ultimatum.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper met face to face with Mr. Netanyahu in New York on Friday morning, but it was a rare occasion when Mr. Harper did not offer the political support that his Israeli political ally wanted.

Mr. Harper avoided setting a “red line” of his own – and a senior Harper government official said Canada will not openly back a specific trigger for war to stop Iran from gaining nuclear weapons.

“Canada will not be publicly setting red lines. That is for others to do,” the official said. “We will continue to work with our allies to find a peaceful resolution on Iran.”

Mr. Netanyahu has been in a public dispute with U.S. President Barack Obama over where to draw the line for Iran. Mr. Obama has said he won’t let Iran obtain nuclear weapons, but Mr. Netanyahu insists Iran must know it will be attacked if it enriches enough uranium to make a bomb.

Mr. Harper was clearly not willing to get in the middle of Israel’s disagreement with the United States, Canada’s most important ally, on a major international-security issue.

On Thursday, Mr. Netanyahu had brought a cartoon-like drawing of a bomb to the United Nations to make his point, drawing a red line across it. At a brief photo op at the outset of their meeting, Mr. Netanyahu greeted Mr. Harper by voicing a similar message.

continue reading: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canada-will-not-issue-ultimatum-for-iran/article4574307/


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Old pals disagree on dealing with Iranian threat

By David Akin
September 28, 2012

NEW YORK – Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu have a warm, personal relationship.

So far as world leaders go, you might even call them old pals.

And so, as the two men sat down for a one-on-one meeting at a Park Avenue hotel here in Manhattan Friday morning, it was one friend telling another something he may not have wanted to hear.

Canada, Harper told Netanyahu, will not be drawing any “red lines” when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, despite Netanyahu’s very public entreaties at the United Nations this week that its allies ought to do so and a very personal entreaty to Harper that Canada ought to back him on that.

In New York earlier this week, Harper had said Iran is a “clear and present danger.” He did that, as he told his friend Bibi on Friday, because: “Our country has not been shy about warning the world about the danger that the Iranian regime ultimately presents to all of us.”

But military action? “We want to see a peaceful resolution of all this,” Harper said.

Canada recently severed diplomatic ties with Iran, among the strongest possible signals one country can send about its displeasure with another country’s behaviour.

Netanyahu thanked his friend “Stephen” for that action, calling it “an act of moral clarity” and saying that “such clear decisive steps is a great example to be followed by other nations.”

But Netanyahu is having trouble convincing Canada and other allies of Israel – notably the U.S. – that a more serious threat needs to be made to Iran. Namely, that if it continues its nuclear weapons development program, Iran will see bombs and missiles raining down on the industrial plants making Iran’s enriched uranium.

continue reading: http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/archives/sunnews/straighttalk/2012/09/20120928-134053.html


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Foreign Affairs paid $2M for study on threats to embassies

The Canadian Press
Posted: Sep 15, 2012

The Foreign Affairs Department paid almost $2 million to an international security firm for a sweeping intelligence study of potential threats to Canada’s foreign embassies.

The assessment would have undoubtedly informed the Harper government’s decision to close its embassy in Tehran last week.

The contract was awarded earlier this year to Control Risks Group, a company that boasts 34 offices across the world, and a network of government, police, aid groups and media.

Neither the company nor Foreign Affairs would comment specifically on the nature of the work done.

The government has said repeatedly that the safety of its diplomats was the primary reason for pulling out of the Iranian capital.

Canada shut its Cairo embassy for a day on Thursday after anti-U.S. riots broke out in Egypt, Libya and Yemen over an American film that denigrates the prophet Muhammad. An attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, claimed the life of its ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three American embassy co-workers.

$2M for work done in under 10 weeks

According to the government’s procurement notice, Foreign Affairs was looking for an intelligence firm to describe possible threats to its diplomatic corps from terrorism, instability and natural disasters in 174 countries, including 46 major cities.

The government paid $1,997,903 for work done between Jan. 25 and March 31. The government was willing to spend up to $5 million for the Baseline Threat Assessment, or BTA, comprised of 15- to 30-page documents for each country.

The government put out the call for tenders in December, one month after the British embassy in Tehran was stormed by an angry mob. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has cited the attack on the British mission as one of the reasons for the Tehran pullout.

Baird said Friday that planning on the Iranian embassy withdrawal had been underway for several months.

The BTAs were to give a ranking in seven categories: political instability; criminality; terrorism/insurgency; conflict zones; natural disasters; the health environment; and the general environment — “e.g. fatalities, cultural constraints.”

The government called for the study to assign labels of “low, medium, high and critical” to each of those seven categories.

The government wanted the BTAs to be “living documents, which will allow the department to assess the vulnerability of government of Canada assets abroad (people, programs, infrastructure) and determine appropriate security safeguards.”

Angry anti-U.S. protests have spread to 20 more countries, including Sudan, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“I’m obviously very concerned with what is happening in the Middle East and North Africa. As I’ve said before, our diplomatic personnel are not military, they are not paid to put their lives on the line,” Harper said Friday.

“It’s my responsibility to ensure that our people are protected. Obviously we’ve closed one mission that’s in Iran where we thought the risks are particularly high.”

On its website, Control Risks says it provides strategic security advice to companies, governments and non-profit organizations.

“Our services range from providing strategic consultancy, through to expert analysis and in-depth investigations, to handling sensitive political issues, to practical on the ground protection and support,” the company says.

“Whatever the nature of the political, security or integrity risk facing our clients, Control Risks can tailor an effective solution that will meet their exact requirements.”

The 2010 federal budget set aside $450 million over seven years for the Security Abroad Strategy to bolster security at Canada’s foreign embassies.

source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/09/15/pol-canadian-embassies-security-study.html


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Harper and Putin talk tough on trade, Mideast, but warm up over hockey

Mark MacKinnon
Vladivostok, Russia — The Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, Sep. 08 2012, 7:49 AM EDT
Last updated Saturday, Sep. 08 2012, 4:08 PM EDT

‘There’s lots of things that Mr. Putin and our government do not necessarily agree on, but our conversations are extremely frank on these issues,’ Canadian Prime Minister says.

At least there was hockey to talk about.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Russian President Vladimir Putin reminisced briefly but warmly about the epochal hockey series 40 years ago between Canada and the Soviet Union during a bilateral meeting Saturday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit.

More Related to this Story

It was the only time the two leaders found common ground during a meeting marked by disagreements about policy toward Iran and Syria, as well as the unimpressive Canada-Russia trade relationship.

The meeting – the first tête-à-tête between Mr. Putin and Mr. Harper since 2007 – began awkwardly with Mr. Putin running more than an hour late because of a packed schedule of other bilateral meetings. Mr. Harper then made Mr. Putin wait several minutes before finally entering the meeting room to stiff smiles and handshakes.

continue reading: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/harper-and-putin-talk-tough-on-trade-mideast-but-warm-up-over-hockey/article4529251/

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By cutting ties with Iran, we just shot ourself in the foot

By Doug Saunders
The Globe and Mail
Saturday, September 08 2012

The boxy red-brick building on Metcalfe Street looks more like a medium-security prison than an embassy, and its air of menace extends beyond its architectural design and impenetrable gates.

Iranian Canadians have long believed that Tehran’s outpost in Ottawa is used to spy on their activities, in less than subtle ways, and occasionally to send intimidating messages to expats.

That sort of subterfuge, if it got out of hand, might have been a good reason to expel Iran’s ambassador to Canada. Likewise, the torture killing of Canadian-Iranian photographer Zahra Kazemi in 2003 and its subsequent cover-up were good reasons to withdraw Canada’s ambassador from Tehran.

But those were not the sorts of reasons given by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on Friday when he tried to explain the extraordinary step he had just taken of cutting diplomatic relations with Iran, closing Canada’s embassy in Tehran and expelling Iran’s diplomatic staff from Ottawa.

Instead, Mr. Baird said, at some length, that Canada simply does not like Iran. The Islamic Republic supports Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in his brutal crackdown against rebels. It continues to be dishonest with the International Atomic Energy Agency about its nuclear programs. It backs dangerous organizations, including terrorist groups, in Lebanon and Afghanistan. Its loudmouth president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, often rails against Israel and Jews and doesn’t treat leaders and diplomats with respect.

Mr. Baird even went so far as to claim that the current government of Iran is “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today.” Even if that were true, it would not be a reason to sever diplomatic ties – in fact, it would be a very good reason to maintain them.

Closing an embassy is rarely done even in moments of hostility. By its very nature, it prevents the possibility of further relations with the country in question, good or bad, influential or ineffective. Messages of protest, off-record moves to quell an eruption, clandestine efforts to build relations with reformists within the regime – all of these options are no longer possible. Once you’ve pulled the plug, you’re out of the game.

Libya’s embassy in Ottawa was more menacing than Iran’s has ever been – it employed goons in Moammar Gadhafi’s intelligence agency to infiltrate visiting students, follow them daily, and sometimes threaten to kill their families.

Even after Libyan embassies in other countries had fallen to anti-Gadhafi rebels last year, the Ottawa mission remained firmly loyal to the dictator. Yet, Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t order it closed until August of 2011, after Canada and its NATO partners had been at war with Libya for months. Up to that point, it made sense to maintain the embassy: It was a vital channel to the regime.

Iran is a deeply troubled country controlled by a religious dictatorship and an elected president who have little respect for international agreements. Yet, these are matters of diplomacy, negotiation and sanctions – and Iran’s leadership is factional and fragmented and very likely rejected by a majority of the public, so has genuine potential for movement.

There’s no imminent risk. U.S. intelligence agencies and Israel’s military chief, Benny Gantz, have said recently they believe Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons. There’s no suggestion of any Iranian military attack against any other country at the moment. The Iranian menace is all politics and potential.

The crucial milestone in Iran is not the acquisition of nuclear weapons – which, even if they began pursuing them, would be years away. It’s the June 14, 2013, presidential election – which could repeat the crackdowns, reprisals and fraud of the 2009 vote, but also have real potential for leadership change. (Mr. Ahmadinejad, facing a term limit, will not be running.)

Sanctions have the power to sway that vote. So do diplomatic acts. Canada has now abandoned such possibilities.

“This is the first time in decades that a Canadian prime minister, Liberal or Conservative, appears to be advocating approaches that reduce diplomatic opportunities for peace during an international crisis,” Canada’s last full ambassador to Tehran, John Mundy, wrote on this page this year when Stephen Harper began talking about abandoning negotiations. We now have another unfortunate first. The Prime Minister ought to listen to his diplomats.

source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/by-cutting-ties-with-iran-we-just-shot-ourself-in-the-foot/article4527936/


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Canadian General Itching For A New Foreign War

In The Twilight War, historian David Crist unravels “the secret history of America’s 30-year conflict with Iran.” A secret conflict that’s looks certain to become a real war soon. Led by Israel. A war Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff General Walter Natynczyk seems to have been itching for since the announcement of the end of our questionable military involvement in Afghanistan.

Natynczyk revealed his warmongering itch to the Canadian Press on July 7. Disturbingly, the general assigns the itch to the ordinary men and women in uniform:

We have some men and women who have had two, three and four tours and what they’re telling me is ‘Sir, we’ve got that bumper sticker. Can we go somewhere else now?’

And:

You also have the young sailors, soldiers, airmen and women who have just finished basic training and they want to go somewhere and in their minds it was going to be Afghanistan. So if not Afghanistan, where’s it going to be? They all want to serve.

It’s Natynczyk who hungers for a new war. In the same Canadian Press interview, he told his troops to keep their “kit packed up” because “the world is an unpredictable place right now.” And because “our allies want more of Canada, more of the men and women who wear Canadian uniforms.”

But Natynczyk’s warmongering merely echoes Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s own lust for war. The Conservative government has made every effort to militarize Canadian society. And our foreign policy. Last year, Canada embraced Britain’s murderous history of colonialism, racism and plunder when the military restored the “Royal” moniker to the navy and air force. All in the name of embracing “our heritage”.

Continue reading: http://www.canadianprogressiveworld.com/2012/08/05/canadian-general-itching-for-a-new-foreign-war-2/


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Tougher foreign policy vital to Canada: Baird

By Lee Berthiaume, Postmedia News
December 28, 2011

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird knows some of his government’s positions on the world stage are unpopular. Supporting Israel and walking away from the Kyoto accord earlier this month are two examples.

Baird won’t apologize for either.

“We don’t develop foreign policy to be popular around the world,” he says in a recent interview with Postmedia News. “Sometimes you’re alone saying something, and then a number of years later, it’s conventional wisdom.”

The refusal to concede on issues of importance to the government is one of the clearest marks that Canada’s approach to world affairs has undergone a dramatic change since the Conservatives first came to power nearly six years ago,

Gone is the so-called “soft power” and “human security agenda” of the previous Liberal government, symbolized by consensus building at the United Nations and diplomatic initiatives like peacekeeping.

In its place is a clear pursuit of interests linked to an uncompromising projection of values backed up by a strong military.

The government’s top concern, says Baird, is Canadian economic prosperity.

“It is a lens through which we view almost anything,” he says. “Foreign policy has become even more important to the economy. It’s really essential.”

The Foreign Affairs Department budget has increased by about $700 million since 2006 to $2.8 billion. Where it has resulted in more feet on the ground, those have largely been trade commissioners in trade offices opened in China, India, Brazil and other economic hotspots.

At the same time, Baird is quick to list the number of free trade and foreign investment agreements being pursued by the government. Perhaps not by coincidence, when Canada’s embassy in Tripoli, Libya reopened in September, the first officials deployed were trade officers, not political and human rights experts.

But nothing is bigger than the United States, and Baird identifies the recent Canada-U.S. border security agreement as the best example of “traditional diplomacy” from the last year.

“It took a solid, personal relationship at the top between the prime minister and the president in order to initiate something, successfully see its conclusion and announce it,” Baird says.

The same is true with the mission in Libya, he adds.

“I think Libya’s a big success because of strong leadership on behalf of the prime minister,” Baird says, though he also praises Gen. Charles Bouchard, the Canadian commander who oversaw the NATO operation.

In fact, the foreign affairs minister describes Libya as Canada’s biggest diplomatic accomplishment in the past year.

“No doubt the diplomatic work, the coalition-building and the military success in Libya was a big one for Canada,” he says. “How many thousands, tens of thousands, of civilian lives were saved? It’s just a remarkable accomplishment. (Moammar) Gadhafi was just the worst of the worst.”

The Canadian military has emerged as a major player in Canadian foreign policy in recent years, bolstered by the fact the Defence Department budget has increased nearly $5.6 billion to $20.3 billion since the Conservative government came into power. This has included the purchase of new aircraft, ships and armoured vehicles, as well as heavy combat roles in Afghanistan and Libya.

Critics have lamented what they say is the Conservative government’s prioritizing of military power over Canada’s traditional strength, diplomacy.

Sitting in his 10th-floor office at Foreign Affairs headquarters, known in Ottawa circles as Fort Pearson, Baird says the government is simply undoing years of damage wreaked by Liberal governments in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“The military was gutted for 13 years,” he says. “Hollowed out. Even the man the Liberals appointed to be chief of defence staff (Rick Hillier) called it a ‘decade of darkness.’ That didn’t happen here at DFAIT.”

But while the government is preparing to spend billions on new F-35 fighter jets, Baird refuses to rule out the closure of Canadian embassies abroad through budget cuts next year.

“I’m confident within the department we can achieve our mandate,” he says. “If spending is unsustainable, that’s the biggest threat to the public service, that’s the biggest threat to the department.”

Baird’s appointment to the Foreign Affairs portfolio in May came as a surprise to many. Known for his bombastic style in the House of Commons, many wondered whether he would be able to make the transition to becoming Canada’s top diplomat.

Baird says the biggest lesson he’s learned is that nothing matters more in Foreign Affairs than personal relationships.

“When we have an issue, whether it’s in the United States, whether it’s in Turkey, being able to pick up the phone and talk to my counterpart directly about it,” he says.

The country’s failure to land a UN Security Council seat in October 2010, ultimately losing to Portugal, has called into question whether the Conservative government has squandered the goodwill built up over the decades by previous Canadian governments.

Baird initially tries to blame North Korea and Iran, but eventually acknowledges some of the unpopular positions taken by Canada in recent years were a factor in turning away countries in the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world.

When asked how he reconciles the importance of strong relationships with the fact a number of positions adopted by the government are unpopular with the international community, Baird indicates those who are most critical of Canada’s stances aren’t likely to be friends anyway.

“We’ve taken a tough stand on human rights in some parts of the world, and that makes some people feel very uncomfortable,” he says. “If you’re a government which doesn’t respect human rights, you’re probably not keen on Canada talking about the rights of women, the rights of religious minorities, the rights of gays and lesbians.”

In recent weeks, Canada has been called out by many nations, including European allies, for abandoning the Kyoto Protocol.

Baird says only a few countries have brought the issue up with him personally, adding that the government is simply leading where other nations will eventually follow.

He says this is exactly what happened with Canadian calls several years ago for all major emitters to be included in whatever climate change agreement is negotiated after Kyoto.

“People may not have liked our position on climate change in 2007, but they’ve adopted it almost wholly across much of the world today,” he said

original source: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Tougher+foreign+policy+vital+Canada+Baird/5916863/story.html


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WikiLeaks releases U.S. cables outlining Canadian foreign policy in Latin America

WikiLeaks releases U.S. cables outlining Canadian foreign policy in Latin America

 

It turns out that he was inspired by former Australian prime minister John Howard’s approach to foreign policy.

This month, the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks released a bunch of U.S. diplomatic cables relating to this part of the world.

A “confidential” cable from the U.S. embassy in Ottawa to the U.S. State Department on April 15, 2009 explains Howard’s influence on Harper’s approach.

 

“Upon taking office for the first time in 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a sharper focus for Canada’s foreign policy priorities, notably highlighting relations with the U.S., Afghanistan, emerging markets in Asia, and the Western Hemisphere,” the cable states. “He came to this decision, in part, after extended discussions with Australian then-Prime Minister John Howard, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s (DFAIT) Director General for Latin America and the Caribbean James Lambert. Harper had long been favorably impressed by Australia’s ability to exert outsized influence with the U.S. in particular—and other powers as well—by emphasizing its relations in its own neighborhood, observed Lambert, who added that PM Harper hoped to gain similar benefits for Canada by increased attention to Latin America and the Caribbean. When forming his second government after the October 2008 election, PM Harper also created the new position of Minister of State for the Americas, naming former journalist and new Conservative MP Peter Kent. While Kent has traveled frequently throughout the hemisphere, he does not have actual staff or exercise ministerial oversight of Brazil and Cuba policy in particular, as he had originally been promised, according to DFAIT contacts.

 

In a 2003 speech to Parliament, Harper copied parts of a Howard speech supporting the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Harper’s repetition of Howard’s words created a brief controversy in the 2008 federal-election campaign.

The recently released WikiLeaks cable also describes efforts by a former foreign-affairs minister, Stockwell Day, to promote freer trade with Latin American countries. Deals were reached with Peru and Colombia. Here’s what the cable says:

 

“The government has submitted the implementing legislation for both FTAs to Parliament, but concerns over alleged abuses and killings of labor activists in Colombia have made the Colombia FTA in particular somewhat of a difficult sell in some quarters of Parliament, according to DFAIT’s Major. “It was a painful but deliberate choice for the Prime Minister,” she said, adding that Harper was committed to supporting President Uribe despite potential domestic political costs. Harper and Uribe had struck up a good friendship, she said, and the Prime Minister wished to support someone he viewed as courageous and trying to change his country for the better. Canada was also continuing negotiations with the Central American Four partners. The parties met again for talks in late February and will have a second round in April 27 to 30 in Managua. Both sides having been trying to agree to terms since 2001. The talks had stalled for several years beginning in 2004, but resumed in 2006.

 

The cable also states that Canada has concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Mexico. Here’s part of what was written:

 

“Canada has become increasingly concerned about the security situation in Mexico, according to several Canadian interlocutors. DFAIT contacts have noted that National Security Advisor Marie-Lucie Morin was pushing the government to aid Mexican President Calderon in a more public way (refs c-e). An inter-agency Canadian team met with counterparts in Qc-e). An inter-agency Canadian team met with counterparts in Mexico City on March 12 and 13 to see how Canada might better support President Calderon’s efforts to reform the police, corrections, and judicial sectors. The visit also reflected the reinvigorated bilateral security policy consultations that began again in December 2007.”

 

Meanwhile, the memo cites a Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade official saying that Canada appreciated U.S. efforts to “de-escalate public disagreements with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, believing that the skillful handling of Chavez over the past several years had muted hemispheric criticism of U.S. policy in other areas, especially with regard to Cuba”.

 

“Internationally, Chavez’s tentative ‘alliance’ with Iran was increasingly ‘worrying’ to Canada, according to Lambert, since it has the potential to divert global attention from human rights and civil liberties,” the cable states. “Nonetheless, with Venezuela as its third largest export market, Canada had no choice but to stay engaged with Caracas, despite increasing concerns for the investment climate in Venezuela.”

 

Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.

continue reading source:  http://www.straight.com/news/wikileaks-releases-us-cables-outlining-canadian-foreign-policy-latin-america


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An American journalist’s view of Harper

By Richard Fricker
October 17, 2006

As an American journalist visiting my wife’s relatives in Canada, I’ve always been struck by how ardently the country’s political discourse focused on substance — the budget, health care, schools, roads — with little of the cheap theatrics and angry divisiveness of U.S. politics and punditry.

Reading and listening to the Canadian news media during those family trips could be a tad boring, but it also was touching, like remembering your earnest grade-school civics teacher lecturing about the wonders of the American democratic process.

But in my visit this past summer, I noticed that the tone of Canada suddenly had changed. There was a nastier edge to the commentary. There were not-so-subtle appeals to racism and xenophobia, references to Muslim neighbourhoods in Quebec as “Quebecistan” and to Lebanese-Canadians as “Hezbocrats,” a play on the Muslim group Hezbollah.

To someone who has covered U.S. politics for three decades, there was a shock of recognition. Standing out starkly against the bland traditions of Canadian governance was the pugnacious ‘tude of American political combat, wedge issues pounded in with a zeal that put the goal of winning and holding power over everything else.

It was as if a virus that had long infected the people south of the border had overnight jumped containment and spread northward establishing itself in a new host population. But — as I began to study this new phenomenon — it became clear that this infection did not just accidentally break quarantine.

Rather, it was willfully injected into the Canadian body politic by conservative strategists and right-wing media moguls who had studied the modern American model and were seeking to replicate it.

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper even brought in Republican advisers, such as political consultant Frank Luntz, to give pointers on how the ruling Conservative Party could become as dominant in Canada as the GOP is in the United States.

Canada had its version of Rupert Murdoch and Fox News in the Asper brothers and their CanWest Global Communications Corp., which owns the National Post, the Montreal Gazette and nine other Canadian newspapers, 25 television outlets and two radio stations.

It was the Montreal Gazette and the National Post that trumpeted the phrase “Quebecistan” after demonstrators in Ottawa and Montreal protested Israel’s bombardment of Lebanon in summer 2006.

Columnist Don MacPherson equated those protests, where some demonstrators waved Hezbollah flags, with pro-terrorism. “It’s finally becoming respectable again to express support for terrorists,” MacPherson wrote on August 8, 2006, in the Montreal Gazette.

Meanwhile, CanWest’s National Post offered up a Canadian version of Ann Coulter in columnist Barbara Kay.

In one of Kay’s columns, she noted that 50,000 Lebanese-Canadians lived in Montreal and added, “We can expect those numbers to swell as Hezbollah-supporting residents of southern Lebanon cash in on their Canadian citizenship and flee to safety.”

Kay denounced Quebec as “the most anti-Israel of the provinces and therefore the most vulnerable to tolerance for Islamist” causes.

“The word would go out to the Islamophere that Quebec was the Londonistan,” Kay wrote. “It won’t if our political class takes its cues from principled Stephen Harper rather than shameless Quebec politicians who led the pro-terrorist rally.”

‘Clone de Bush’

Harper, Canada’s photogenic 47-year-old Prime Minister, has emerged as the face of modern Canadian conservatism much the way George W. Bush has come to personify right-wing politics in the United States.

Born in Toronto in 1959, Harper moved west to Alberta in 1978 to work in the petroleum industry. Similarly, Bush cut his teeth as a Texas oilman, albeit a failed one.

Much as that oilfield experience shaped Bush’s persona and Texas money fueled the American Right, so too did Alberta and its oil industry influence the political development of Harper and the emergence of modern Canadian conservatism.

Harper earned a bachelor’s degree and his masters in economics from the University of Calgary. By 1985, then in his mid-20s, he had turned to politics, gaining recognition as a bright operative and landing a job as chief aide to a Tory Member of Parliament named Jim Hawkes.

But Harper grew disenchanted with the compromising style of Canada’s Tories who — like Prime Minister Brian Mulroney — often worked collaboratively with other political parties in Ottawa to maintain social programs for Canadians. Harper concluded that Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative Party was too liberal, so he quit it in 1986.

At age 28, Harper was recruited by Preston Manning, the founder of Canada’s Reform Party, and became the party’s chief political officer. Harper ran for the House of Commons against his old mentor, Hawkes, in 1988, losing badly.

But the defeat did not dampen Harper’s political ambitions. He continued to puzzle over how a revamped conservative movement might shake up Canadian politics and ultimately gain power.

For inspiration in building this new brand of Canadian conservatism, Harper looked to Washington, where Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia, was promoting a combative style designed to shatter the longtime Democratic grip on the U.S. House of Representatives. In Gingrich’s view, Republicans had to replace cooperation with confrontation.

In 1993, Harper ran for the House of Commons again, this time aided by a tactic pioneered by U.S. conservatives — having ostensibly independent organizations tear down one’s opponent with large sums of money outside the legal limits on campaign spending.

In this case, a group called the National Citizens Coalition went on the offensive against MP Hawkes, undermining his political support enough so that Harper was able to win the seat in Calgary West.

Harper was learning, too, from conservative spinmeister Frank Luntz, who helped Gingrich draft the “Contract With America,” which became the centrepiece of the Republican victory in the U.S. Congress in 1994. Luntz was a specialist at the take-no-prisoners-style of politics that envisioned permanent conservative control of Washington.

Harper picked up other tips from Bush’s political adviser Karl Rove, such as the importance of transforming the Christian evangelical movement into an activist base for conservative politics.

Harper’s brash conservatism grated on the more populist positions of Manning’s Reform Party, which once rebuked Harper for not standing with the party’s internal policies. For his part, Harper considered Manning too inclined to compromise.

In January 1997, Harper resigned his Reform Party seat in Parliament and went to work as vice president of the National Citizens Coalition, the outside organization that had helped Harper defeat Hawkes in 1993.

Harper soon rose to be the coalition’s president and served notice that the group would become a vehicle for smashing Canada’s political status quo.

In a speech in the United States to a major conservative organization, the Council for National Policy, Harper declared that “Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worse sense of the term, and very proud of it.”

Harper also mocked Canadians as complacent and ill-informed. “If you’re like most Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country,” he told his CNP audience. “Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians.”

Back in Canada, Harper also began ratcheting up the political rhetoric, co-authoring an article referring to Canada’s Liberal government as a “benign dictatorship” held together by incompetence. The article also sought conservative unity and praised the hard-edged right-wing commentary in media outlets owned by mogul Conrad Black.

Harper cobbled together a platform of issues that exploited Canada’s latent social, cultural and economic resentments. He proposed raising the age of sexual consent, permitting more corporal punishment of children, initiating a program similar to school vouchers, and resisting issues that favoured French-speaking Quebec.

As this Americanized version of Canadian conservatism took shape, Harper was cribbing, too, from another rising U.S. politician, George W. Bush. Harper said his goal was to tap into a political base “similar to what George Bush tapped.”

New party

Amid a surge of anti-minority sentiments, Harper merged his operations at the Canadian Conservative Alliance with those of Peter MacKay, the last leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. In 2003, they officially formed the Conservative Party of Canada.

Their timing was perfect. As with the congressional Democrats in the United States a decade earlier, the Canadian Liberal Party found itself beset with corruption allegations and suffering from growing public resentment about high taxes.

In contrast to these tainted Liberals was the fresh-faced Harper at the head of a shiny new movement with powerful backing from right-wing interest groups, neoconservative media outlets and stirred-up social conservatives.

Though Conrad Black’s media empire had collapsed in a financial scandal, some of his properties, such as the National Post, were snapped up by CanWest Global, which shared Black’s staunchly pro-Israeli stance on Middle East affairs.

Harper also brought into play evangelical Protestants, through his membership in the Christian and Missionary Alliance, which opposed gay rights, was staunchly anti-abortion and targeted North Africa’s Muslims for conversion to Christianity.

In 2004, Harper engineered a political breakthrough for the Conservatives in Ontario, boosting their standing in the House of Commons by 25 seats.

This new conservative coalition flexed its muscles again in January 2006, denying the Liberals control of Parliament by claiming 124 seats (out of 308) and putting Harper in position to piece together a coalition government, which he did.

Harper was sworn in as Canada’s new Prime Minister on February 6, 2006, consolidating right-wing political power across the North American continent. President Bush finally had a likeminded Canadian leader who also shared Washington’s neoconservative doctrine for confronting the Islamic world.

The tone of Canadian political discourse has followed this shift in the government, especially with CanWest media outlets ready to trumpet news that puts the Islamic world in the worst possible light.

For instance, on May 19, 2006, the National Post published a front-page article by expatriate Iranian journalist Amir Taheri, claiming that Iran was enacting legislation that would require colour-coded “badges” for Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians.

“Jews would be marked out with a yellow strip of cloth sewn in front of their clothes while Christians will be assigned the colour red” and Zoroastrians would wear blue, Taheri reported in the article distributed by Benador Associates, a public relations firm representing neoconservative writers, such as Michael Ledeen and Richard Perle.

With its obvious Holocaust allusion, Taheri’s story flashed around the world, picked up by the New York Post, Rush Limbaugh and the powerful U.S.-Israeli lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Harper and Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard, who was visiting Canada, joined in denouncing Iran for the purported badge legislation.

However, Taheri’s article turned out to be untrue. The Iranian legislation contained nothing about making religious minorities wear coloured badges. After the facts were challenged, the National Post retracted the story and later published an apology.

Media confrontation

In June 2006, Harper applied another lesson from the U.S. Republican playbook: Even with a supportive right-wing news media protecting your flanks, still pick a fight with the rest of the national news media.

Claiming to be victimized by hostile questions from Parliament Hill reporters, Harper announced that he would favour regional news outlets with interviews, while shunning the supposedly “Elitist” national press corps.

“I have trouble believing that a Liberal Prime Minister would have this problem, but the press gallery at the leadership level has taken an anti-Conservative view,” Harper said, ignoring the role the same journalists had played in highlighting Liberal Party corruption which cleared the way for the Conservative Party victory.

Harper mandated that reporters sign up in advance to ask questions at news conferences and then weeded out journalists considered too liberal, according to Yves Malo, president of the press corps gallery.

Harper’s staff “made it very clear they were taking their cue from the White House,” Malo told me. “They were always telling us how things were done in Washington. The first time we resisted we were called ‘liberals. ‘ Now, we’re called ‘liberal ideologues.’”

Much as Bush speaks almost exclusively before friendly, well-screened audiences, Harper tends to grant exclusive interviews to CanWest media outlets, Malo said.

Despite the lingering embarrassment over the bogus “coloured badge” story, CanWest’s neoconservative attitudes resurfaced in July 2006 when war broke out between Israel and Lebanon.

As Israeli bombers inflicted heavy civilian casualties in Lebanon in retaliation for Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers, Lebanese-Canadians staged protests demanding that Israel cease its attacks.

Montreal Gazette columnist MacPherson chastised Quebec politicians who attended the rally for not condemning Hezbollah and for not discouraging Hezbollah sympathizers from participating. National Post writer Kay termed the rally “virulently anti-Israel.”

Launched from CanWest’s newspapers, the words “Quebecistan” and “Hezbocrats” were suddenly buzzing through Canada’s public debate.

While this kind of divisive rhetoric is common in the United States and is even encouraged as a way to energize the political base, it marked an escalation of political stridency for Canada.

Some of that fury seems to have subsided since a ceasefire took hold between Lebanon and Israel in late summer. But the larger question remains whether Harper will succeed in transforming Canada into a more belligerent and bellicose nation, much as Bush has done in the United States.

For generations, Canada has prided itself on its well-liked image around the world. It is a nation renowned for sending peacekeepers abroad not occupying armies. Aside from ice hockey and occasional over-indulgence in beer drinking, Canadians are known for their civility, not combativeness.

There is also the possibility that having seen the consequences of right-wing governance in the United States, Canadians will recoil at the thought of losing their pleasant country with its national health insurance and fairly comfortable lifestyle, in favour of the more cut-throat economic system south of the border.

Some analysts suspect, too, that the Bush connection could ultimately hurt Harper, who is sometimes referred to as “un clone de Bush.” With Canadian troops dying in Afghanistan and violence rising in the Middle East, Harper’s coziness with Bush may become a liability as it has been for British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Over the past several months, Harper has seen his popularity decline and the backing of his coalition partners erode. It remains to be seen if Harper’s American-style conservatism can survive — let alone thrive — in Canada.

The Liberal Party — after selecting new leadership in December — is expected to force a new round of elections early in 2007. That election may well turn out to be a test of whether the American brand of conservatism has a future as a political export.

original source: http://rabble.ca/news/american-journalists-view-harper


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